The risks of drunk driving are indisputable. Public education campaigns, strict traffic laws, and steep penalties aim to prevent drunk driving and save lives. Yet, the dangers of driving under the influence of legal and illegal drugs are a bit less understood. Let us take a closer look at the affects drugs have on driving and how Virginia is working to combat drugged driving with strict penalties for offenders found to be under the influence.
Drugged Driving Car Accident Data
The statistics on drugged driving car accidents are grim. In a single year, nearly 13 million people over the age of 16 reported driving after using illicit drugs, according to the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The same study found more than 40 percent of drivers killed in wrecks tested positive for drugs or alcohol. Half of those drivers who tested positive had two or more drugs in their system.
How Drugs Impair Driving
Legal and illegal drugs have different effects on individuals depending on a variety of factors, including how much the person ingested, if they mixed several drugs together, and how long they took the drug before driving. Common ways drugs alter driving ability include:
- Altered perception of distance and time
- Aggressive and reckless driving behaviors
- Dizziness and drowsiness
- Reduced hand-eye coordination
- Slowed reaction time
Anyone impaired in these ways should not be driving as they pose a serious risk to themselves and those around them, including passengers and pedestrians.
Virginia Drugged Driving Laws
Most states have zero-tolerance policies that make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of any type of drug. Yet in Virginia, the law is slightly more permissive, allowing a minimal amount of drugs in a driver’s system. Under Virginia law, driving with at least 0.02 milligrams of cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and other drugs constitutes driving under the influence.
Penalties for Drugged Driving in Virginia
Penalties for drugged driving in Virginia depend on if the driver is a first-time or repeat offender. The following is an overview of the penalties for driving under the influence of drugs in Virginia:
- First Offense: Minimum $250 fine, possible jail time depending on the levels of drugs detected in the blood, and one-year license suspension
- Second Offense: $500 fine, one month in jail, and minimum three-year license suspension
- Third Offense: $1,000 fine, 90 days in jail, indefinite license suspension, and potential seizure of the vehicle
As a licensed driver in Virginia, you effectively consent to have your breath and blood tested for controlled substances if a law enforcement officer suspects you are impaired. If you refuse, you will not be tested, but remember that refusal comes with serious penalties. In this state, a refusal to submit to testing is a civil offense that brings an automatic driver’s license suspension for a first-time offender. Subsequent refusals come with more severe penalties.
There is no denying that drugged driving is a deadly habit. Any vehicle operated by a drugged driver is a deadly weapon. A driver unable to react in time or one who starts to doze off at the wheel endangers themselves and anyone on the road. Victims hurt by a drugged driver may consider bringing a legal claim for their injuries and other losses after a serious wreck.
Our Virginia Beach Car Accident Lawyers Represent Clients Injured in Drugged Driving Car Accidents
If you were seriously hurt by a driver under the influence of alcohol or drugs, contact the Virginia Beach car accident lawyers today. At East Coast Trial Lawyers, we carefully investigate every detail of your wreck to ensure no detail is missed to determine if drugs, alcohol, texting, fatigue, or any other reckless driving behavior caused your injuries. For a free consultation, call us at 757-352-2237 or contact us online. Located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, we serve clients throughout Chesapeake, Eastern Shores, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Suffolk, as well as North Carolina and nationwide.